FOX: Social Circle PD to seek accreditation

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- The chief of the Social Circle Department of Public Safety is using the resignation of one the department's supervisors as an opportunity to consider reorganizing the department in its effort to become state certified.

"Changes and improvements will be made. This will be a transition process as we work to achieve our goal," said Tom Fox, director of the SCDPS. "I will reassess the department's needs or maybe the position will be changed in some way, but I've not made any plans at this point."

Capt. Ron Zara stepped down on July 8 after serving more than six years with the Social Circle Police Department. Zara was the subject of an internal complaint filed in May by another employee, Sgt. Brian Adcock.

The private investigator hired by the SCDPS to look into Adcock's complaint concluded that most of the accusations boiled down to a "'he said/he said' matter." The case was referred to the city for any corrective action on June 26. Approximately two weeks later, Zara tendered his resignation.

"I wish him the best in his endeavors and the department will move forward," Fox said.

A large part of moving forward will be to continue pursuing state certification.

Fox, who took the helm in February 2010, said his goal is to have the city's public safety department -- which oversees both the police and fire departments -- achieve Agency Certification through the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police.

"This is a good goal for local departments to have because it shows they have met a number of standards," he said. "We are well on our way to becoming a professional organization."

According to the GACP Web site, the certification standards "incorporate contemporary professional thought and practices in the state, and will insure the goal of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of Georgia law enforcement agencies."

The certification process has several steps, including requiring agencies to develop policies that conform to the outlined standards and then undergo an assessment and review of those policies.

Fox said during his 18 months with the department he has worked to revamp hiring policies, making standards higher for employment.

Fox said the certification process is voluntary, but he believes it is an important objective.

"It shows we are meeting certain standards, and the public can have more confidence that we are a professional department," he said.

In other news, the Social Circle City Council voted on Tuesday to direct Mayor Jim Burgess to sign an intergovernmental contract with Walton County outlining the city's projects for a proposed SPLOST referendum. The contract is to be signed once the language in the document is amended to clarify that Social Circle's portion of the sales tax revenue will be sent directly to the city and not funneled through the county.

A referendum will be placed before the voters on Nov. 8 for another 1-percent sales tax that would begin in 2013, after the current SPLOST expires in 2012.

The next SPLOST is expected to generate approximately $60 million in Walton County over five years. Social Circle's portion of that is to be about $3.1 million.